Article published on March 25, 2016.
Shamim Sarif must be one of the most dynamic and independent women on the British arts scene, a one-woman cultural powerhouse who not only writes brilliant prize-winning literary fiction but then goes on to direct award winning film adaptations of her own books. She and her partner, Hanan Kattan, also run their own production company, Enlightenment Productions.
Her first novel, The World Unseen, won both the Pendleton May and Betty Trask Awards. Shamim adapted the book for film herself, writing the screenplay and directing the film alongside partner Hanan who produced the film. It went on to win 23 awards internationally. The film of her second novel, I Can’t Think Straight, also won multiple awards. The formula seems close to infallible but will be tested once more in April when another Sarif novel, Despite the Falling Snow, will be re-issued by John Blake and released as a film nationwide with Altitude Films and starring Charles Dance, Anthony Head, Rebecca Ferguson, and Sam Reid, with title track by Ella Henderson.
Despite the Falling Snow is a cold war spy thriller and romance set between 1950s Russia and present day America. In 1950s Moscow, model communist Katya secretly spies for the Americans in the Cold War arms race. When she lands her biggest assignment, stealing secrets from rising government star Alexander, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with him. Reconciling her beliefs with her love for Alexander presents Katya with a dreadful dilemma. Decades later in the USA, Alexander, now a successful businessman, has buried the tragic memories of his early life in Soviet Russia with his late wife, Katya. But into his life come two women who force him to open up the heart he has kept protected for so long; only by confronting the past can Alexander move on to his future
In Britain, where less than 10% of film directors are female, the Sarif/Kattan partnership sets aspiring women film-makers an inspirational example. In 2008, Shamim received the After Ellen Visibility Award as International Lesbian/Bi Woman of the Year. Shamim and her partner Hanan are founders of the Sarif-Kattan Foundation, focusing on empowering and educating women and children across the globe. Small wonder that their production company is called Enlightenment Productions.
Bert Wright, Editor – The Nudge List
Despite the Falling Snow by Shamin Sarif is published by John Blake as a £7.99 pbk on 7th April.
Released in UK cinemas on 15th April © Altitude Films
Watch a trailer
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